Staying fit helps your brain age well

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Wed 3rd Jun, 2015

The importance of keeping healthy by increasing our physical activity has been a constant topic of discussion by medical professionals.

They emphasize how the benefit of physical activity can reduce the risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc.

The thought of fitting an exercise routine into an already chaotic schedule is not appealing to most.

The benefit however is more than just keeping tabs on your weight gain or health risks.

Keeping fit could slow down the processes of aging that affect your brain and memory abilities. Need more incentive to go for that daily walk?

Let's have a look at what Dr. Hayes from the Memory Disorders Research Center in Boston and VA Boston Healthcare System found in his new study.

Dr. Hayes' research is about age related degeneration of the white matter region in the brain and how the ability of your circulatory and respiratory systems to provide oxygen to your muscles during exercise, can reduce this process.

Our brain can be divided into two regions defined as white and grey matter.

You can think of these two regions as a computer network with the grey matter as the computer and the white matter the network cables connecting these computers.

As we age our brain undergo several changes. For some this is more dramatic than others.

Dr. Hayes and his colleagues examined changes in the white matter region by means of a Magnetic resonance imaging technique (MRI scan).

They compared a group of young and old adults that were equivalently fit, relative to what was normal for their age and gender.

The older adult group was divided into a higher fit and lower fit group.

They found that for some brain regions, the results for the higher fit older adult group were comparable with the younger adult group and that both groups had higher values than the lower fit older adult group.

How can keeping fit benefit you in your old age?

Dr. Hayes says "evidence suggests that physical activities that enhance cardiorespiratory fitness, such as walking, biking, or dancing, positively impacts the brain and could slow memory decline."

Although this might not prevent more serious conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis or Alzheimer's, it could delay the process of age-related decline.

"Certainly older adults value their ability to learn and remember information and events, re-live the past, and imagine the future. These cognitive functions underpin our ability to live independently--remembering to pay bills, turn the stove off, thinking about your plans for tomorrow or the next week. Anything that would allow people to function independently for a longer period of time would have a huge impact on the individual--both psychologically and financially. It also could reduce burden on family caregivers and healthcare systems," says Dr. Hayes emphasizing the benefits and serving as a motivation.

Hope this article motivates you to be physically active as the benefits are numerous. Not only your aging body but also your brain will thank you too!

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Edited: June 03,2015 (Correction: The spelling of Dr. Hayes that was misspelt as Dr. Hays.)

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